Too Many Grids and Mnemonics?

Discussion in 'Ecclesiology' started by Myson, Apr 20, 2018.

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  1. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    As I've been studying and trying to synthesize some of our theology in a way that the average person with no confessional understanding or Reformed background (which, in our Southern, rural context, is quite literally everyone) can easily understand, I'm running into a lot of really good stuff but also feeling overwhelmed.

    I'm seeing the mnemonics and grids that others go through such as Prophet Priest and King (Christ is our prophet so the Church tells the good news, Christ is our Priest so we comfort those with his Good news, Christ is our King so we do unto others as we live and love in his Kingdom), Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration (the story of God's relationship to mankind and how this story echoes all of our stories), Covenant and Obedience (God has made a covenant with his people and we, as his people, obey him in all things), Union with Christ (everything begins and ends with our loss of this communion in the Fall and the new life we as a church have through this Union), Transcendence and Immanence (God is both perfectly Holy, but through Jesus perfectly near to the repentant and we as a church proclaim and live in light of his holiness and nearness to him), Apostles Creed, Decalogue, and Lord's Prayer (head, hands, heart; mind, body, soul; gather, grow, go; Gospel people, Holy people, Kingdom people; etc.) and too many others to name. I've even thought of a few myself (Covenant Obedience, Stewardship, Suffering, Mysterious Union, all producing love)! My problem is that they all are somewhat right and a good grid to look through but a bit too complicated to synthesize together. Is this just my experience? If not, does anyone have any idea on how to synthesize this easier just to give new people an idea of all we believe?

    Most of our new people refuse to even look at Confessions (or even the Bible) initially because we're not Baptist and they think we're adding to the Scriptures and so I'm just looking for ways to help people know we're not like the Mormons, JW, or any other cult, which many suspect us of being since the nearest Presbyterian church is 80 miles in every direction, and they're P.C.U.S.A. Ultimately, I'm just trying to help people understand the God we worship in Sundays rather than let their own ideas and history be at the forefront and what we are actually saying be in the backseat.

    Are there any better synthesis? Should I give up on trying to make this easier for people? Should we just pick one and go with it? Does anyone else feel like these synthesis are more emphasizes that independent churches use for their context that function as marketing tools??
  2. BGF

    BGF Puritan Board Sophomore

    I would use the Shorter Catechism as your guide. If they don't trust the catechism, don't tell them. Use Scripture to explain the theological point made in the catechism.

    For example, you can say, "The Bible teaches us that God made us to glorify Him and to enjoy Him". Then lead them through Psalm 86:9, Isaiah 60:21, Romans 11:36, etc.
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2018
  3. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    It looks like 3 more miles would get you to an ARP, and there are a couple of PCAs atwixt thou and them. And heading out a different direction, looks like there's an OPC a smidgen closer.
  4. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    80 miles was a bit of an exaggeration but you're still looking at an hour or 2 drive for them. Little Rock may be the closest OPC, but that's a pretty far distance for people to get connected to a church they've never heard of and have no idea on what they believe. Point being, in our city of 70,000 people, the area is theologically, biblically, and especially confessionally illiterate and see us more of a cult since we're not Baptist, Methodist, or Church of Christ
  5. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    The OPC to which I referred was in Doniphan, MO.

    But getting back to your original post - what are you trying to do?

    Convert baptists to Presbyterian? If you succeed, where are you going to suggest that they go to church?

    Convert non-believers to Presbyterian? If you succeed, where are you going to suggest that they go to church?

    Why are you, at this stage, slapping a Presbyterian label on what you are doing? Telling folks "You are wrong and I am right" is never an attractive way to present. Start rolling out the charts and grids, and I'd probably head for the door wondering what kind of cult I was being recruited into.

    You might try inviting your friends and neighbors to a Bible study where all of the scripture is examined. Work from the broad to the narrow instead of the other way around. And, over time, if you can develop a core group, then look at asking a Presbytery (PCA/OPC/ARP) for a church planter.
  6. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    I guess I forgot to mention it, but I'm part of a PCA church plant about a year old. We're trying to reach people with a Baptist background who, even if they're not religious, have cultural convictions that make them suspicious of our church.
  7. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    I don't mean this in any kind of snarky way, but why would you want to make those rubrics easier? I can understand your given reason, namely, that too many people are biblically illiterate. However, if what you're saying is true, and the best bet is to try to make the rubrics easier, then what will that say about Scripture's truth itself? Scripture is far more complicated than the rubrics you mentioned. Those rubrics function as short-hand summaries of vastly more complicated biblical teaching. I agree with Brett that the Shorter Catechism is about as simple as you can get. It has many, if not most, of those rubrics in it.
  8. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    OK, that clarifies things a good bit.

    But I'd still teach and preach from the Bible and start with milk, not meat. Indeed, I'd start with whatever translation they are comfortable with. Doors, not barriers. Inches, not yards. Majors, not minors.
  9. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    You just need to be straight forward. I was in a similar situation, and in the long run our commonality in the scripture and gospel spoke through.
  10. VictorBravo

    VictorBravo Administrator Staff Member

    I'm with Jean.

    What's wrong with something like, "hi, I'm a Presbyterian from a bible-believing church down the street. No, we aren't like those liberals you've heard about up north. We take our doctrine from the Word of God alone. Would you like to chat about Lord Christ?"

    I'm not Presbyterian, of course, but I've had conversations with Mormons, Seventh Day Adventists, Roman Catholics, Southern Baptists, and atheists even, using variations of that, being straightforward and friendly. The most important thing is to not be evasive--that sends up the red flags that you are trying to sneakily sell something.
  11. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

    As I'm learning from you guys, I just gotta be honest. This is probably just as much for me as it is for new folks. I'm a bullet points guy - I like organization in my thoughts or else I don't function well! I guess a big part is I just want my own grid to think through the Reformed faith so I can make it all fit in and my head and have something to tell people is my distinctive before they get to the other distinctive. It frustrates me that there were too many other grids that weren't so cohesive as I thought they should be and made more sense that they were more marketing tools for their ministry than anything else. And here I felt like I needed one too! I guess simplification is overrated? And if it has to be simplified we already have a Creed and a Confession and a few catechisms?
  12. greenbaggins

    greenbaggins Administrator Staff Member

    J.M., yes the catechisms and confessions ARE our agreed-upon grid! It is possible to summarize even a little bit more (for instance, the Shorter Catechism is the basis for the children's catechism, which is even more simple). However, since the WS are already as basic as they can be without leaving out anything essential, even the children's catechism has to leave things out in order to get that simplified.
  13. Edward

    Edward Puritan Board Doctor

    And, again, I'll suggest that you are doing it backwards. Start with where they are if you want to get them to where you are.
  14. Myson

    Myson Puritan Board Freshman

  15. Cedarbay

    Cedarbay Puritan Board Freshman

    Now you just have to put these on color coded flash cards and you'll be all set.;)

    Seriously, I might do it!
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
  16. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    There is always the children’s catechism! :rofl:
  17. ScottishPresbyterian

    ScottishPresbyterian Puritan Board Freshman

    I think it depends on the people you are conversing with. If it is with people already attending a Bible-believing church of a different flavour (e.g. Baptist rather than Presbyterian) then I'd respectfully suggest that they're not the right people to "target" for your church plant - they already have the gospel and are your brethren - sheep-stealing should always be avoided.

    If they're from a liberal church, or had a religious background but have turned from it, or are simply atheists (avowedly or practically), then I'd go with Edward's position above - you're not looking for them to be converted specifically to Presbyterianism (though you would hope they ultimately become Presbyterians), but to the Gospel of Christ. With those I would think the place to begin is not with a full theology but with the simple gospel - Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried, and was raised again the third day according to the scriptures. Once this is grasped the theology can then be laid on line upon line, and at that point you'll probably find them more open to something like the Shorter Catechism.
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